How to change for the better


How to change for the better

Everyone always wants to talk about the results they want, but what they don’t talk as much about is the process of change required to make those end results possible. We create vision boards, pin photos of our ideal person on Pinterest, follow motivational Instagram accounts, and sip the occasion skinny tea in hopes that it will kick start some progress.

Change is a funny thing; it really requires something to… well… change! Change itself isn’t easy or tidy. If we have an established routine and have been doing something that way for a while, we’ll have momentum in that direction. It might take a little grit to overcome that force of inertia, to change and do something different.

See Figure 1 for this metaphor. I like to think of the change process as stirring a cup of tea. If you have been stirring your cup clockwise, then the contents of the tea will all be going smoothly in one direction. In fact, you could stop stirring, and your tea would keep spinning clockwise for a bit. That is momentum!

Figure 1

Now, let’s say you wanted to stir your tea counterclockwise. For a moment, it would create a lot of turbulence in the water. There might even be some spillage, and it will take a little effort to get the spoon moving in the opposite direction. Once you get it moving that way though, the water’s momentum will go smoothly in the opposite direction.

This is the same thing with us humans. If we decide to change, it means overcoming habits that we have firmly established and used to create momentum in one direction. It will take effort to overcome the inertia of this momentum and start building habits that will lead us in a different direction.

This is hard work, which is why many people would instead just coast along the momentum they have already built in a negative direction than deal with the turbulence of the initial change to build momentum in a positive direction.

They say that change only comes when the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change. Which brings us to our next point, why should we change?

Understand your “why”

In another article, we discussed the benefits and barriers to change. Simply put, the benefits to change would be understanding its positive effects from it. Whereas the obstacles would be the things that make it hard for us to change.

One might start their process of change by sitting down and creating a list of benefits and barriers. For weight loss, someone’s list might look like this:

Benefits of weight loss Barriers to weight loss
Longer life Don’t know where to start
Better health Confused about conflicting information
More energy Overwhelmed with life stressors
Improved sleep Feel too busy
Better sex life No support
Improved mood and overall happiness Disappointing results in the past 
Reduced symptoms of some diseases Don’t like the foods that are good for you
More creativity Might not want to give up unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking, or binge eating
Being more present with loved ones Unhealthy habits might be social. You might be fearful of losing your social outlet
Improved confidence Fear of judgment
Comfort in day-to-day living Feel like you don’t have enough money
Increased mobility Limited resources
More opportunities for traveling and adventure Other priorities competing for attention


All these things listed on both sides are very valid and very common. Most people understand the benefits of a healthier body, but they can’t quite seem to overcome the barriers. This is where it can help to work with a professional.

You can work with a therapist or one of the providers at MD Diet Clinic to help you understand your why for wanting to change. If you have a strong enough why, then you can start to prioritize and break down the barriers one by one.

Create reasonable goals and a plan

If you are trying to understand how to change for the better. You need to understand “why” and have a good assessment of your benefits and barriers, then you will need to come up with a SMART goal and several supporting process goals to support the SMART outcome goal. We discussed this in-depth in our blog post about New Year Resolutions.

In a nutshell, you need to come up with an outcome goal that is:

  • Specific- A goal that is specific about what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Measurable- How will you measure progress?
  • Achievable- Is your goal realistic for you to accomplish?
  • Relevant- How does this goal tie into your why and overall life mission?
  • Time bound- Set a deadline for you to achieve this goal.

SMART goals are the best kind of goals. See Figure 2. Studies show that people who use SMART goals are far more likely to be successful than those who have vague goals.

Figure 2

Once you have your SMART goals in place. Then you need to come up with several process goals to support it. Let’s say my SMART goal is to lose 10 pounds of body fat in 2 months so I can look at feel my best at my wedding. This goal is incredibly specific. It uses pounds on the scale to measure. You can safely lose 10 pounds in 2 months, which is achievable. It is relevant to the person because of their upcoming wedding. They also have a timeline for this due to the wedding.

The process goals would be what they need to do daily to make this happen. Things like

  • Drinking enough water every day
  • Getting enough sleep every night
  • Eating more lean protein and green veggies throughout the day
  • Cutting back on caffeine each day, especially later in the day
  • Eliminating soda pop, including diet drinks
  • Getting 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise weekly
  • Doing muscle strengthening resistance training 2x a week
  • Etc

Once you have figured out your why, your SMART goals, and your process goals, then you are ready to begin the process of change.

The process of a paradigm shift

Change is the process of an eventual paradigm shift. I like to think of this process using a skateboard ramp or half pipe that snowboarders use during extreme winter sports games. Imagine the skateboarder going back and forth in the half pipe. The skateboard represents us, moving through life like a pendulum. See Figure 3. Sometimes we have great days, represented by the plus sign. On days or weeks like this, we eat all our veggies, drink water, get enough sleep, and avoid junk food. However, just like a pendulum, we will inevitably swing back and forth from the positive side to the opposing side. The negative side represents lazy junk food nights, going to bed too late, drinking too much coffee to get through the next day, and other bad habits.

This is how humans operate. We are ALWAYS going to be like the skateboarder going back and forth on the half pipe. This pendulum of life represents our paradigm. Sometimes we are on the better side, and sometimes we are on the opposing side. No matter where we are, we will always swing back and forth inside our paradigm.

Figure 3


A paradigm shift happens when we move the half-pipe a little bit in one direction. In our case, we are trying to push it in a more positive direction. So if your whole paradigm shifts just a little bit, then you might not notice big things at once. However, your good days will be even better, and your bad days won’t be as bad.

This is because you have shifted the whole pendulum in the direction you want it to go. You will still have good and bad days, but they will exist within a new paradigm. Your good days might start including new habits that were once out of reach. Your bad days might not be such degrading low points anymore.

Eventually, the goal is to shift your whole paradigm so that your worse days are still better than what your best days used to be. Then your good days will be full of new opportunities and potential you never thought possible.

Navigating setbacks

Having bumps in the road of change is inevitable. You will always have that point of turbulence in the beginning while you are in the process of change. Then you will probably have things happen along the way that requires other course corrections. Here are a few tips on how to deal with setbacks.

  1. Evaluate what the setback is. Do you need to adjust your plan to account for new barriers? Do you need to adapt your SMART goal? Are all your process goals working right now?
  2. Take a step back away from the problem. It is okay to have bad days when we take a break from the grind. Talk to a trusted friend or professional to vent and help you get back on track.
  3. Focus on the obstacle itself and what it has to offer. I love Ryan Holiday’s book “The Obstacle is the Way.” Check out this Amazon affiliate link to get this book yourself.
  4. Turn your attention to actionable steps. Maybe you have a setback in your diet from traveling. You can focus your attention on taking steps to prevent this from being a problem in the future. You can focus on doing things like
    1. Bringing your own high-protein snacks
    2. Mapping out places to eat that won’t break your food budget
    3. Sticking to your meal timing and don’t let yourself get too hungry
    4. Get a hotel or Airbnb with a small kitchen in it so you can prepare your own meals

All in all, it is important to remember that change is possible and that you will need to settle in for the long haul to see your result through. You should focus any frustration on recalibrating, staying on track, and never giving up.

Remember the dial method that I talked about in another blog? This is a great opportunity to exercise this discipline. You can always scale up or down depending on how your life is going. You don’t ever need to quit and give up entirely.

It is always harder to keep starting and stopping than it is to slow down and speed up. Just like the metaphor of stirring our tea, if we can keep the momentum going in the direction of the change we are trying to make, then we will eventually achieve our goal.

To sum it up

  1. Change is challenging and requires focus and a willingness to deal with discomfort in changing itself.
  2. Understanding why you want to change will allow you to come from a stronger place deep within yourself to overcome your barriers to change.
  3. To have a successful change, you need a solid plan. Form a SMART goal and several process goals to support your SMART goal.
  4. Changing your paradigm will come from incremental shifts in the highs and lows to which you operate. Eventually, your pendulum will stop swinging from “Horrible to ok” to “Better and best.”
  5. Negative setbacks are inevitable. You must stay focused on the process to overcome them and not get swept up in emotion.
  6. Never ever quit. You can always scale up or down but never quit.

For more help on how to change for the better, we would love to see you in our clinic. We have been around for over 40 years and have helped thousands of people change their lives. Our clinic provides medical weight loss solutions making it easier than ever to overcome the barriers that have been holding you back from achieving success. Call us today to get started! 801-293-3100